Archive for September, 2012

The unfortunate closing of a local landmark

Friday, September 28th, 2012
Shawn Magrath

The Colonia Theatre announced that it’s going to close if nothing can be done (financially) to save it by mid October. The effects of the digital age are rippling across the country and being felt all over the country by theaters in small communities like Norwich. Hollywood’s going all digital, forcing cinemas to purchase new equipment compatible with digital movies and thereby replacing the traditional millimeter films (standard for movie theaters since about 1910). Unfortunately, the cost to upgrade goes way, way beyond the fiscal means of the Colonia.

Like everyone else, I would hate to see the theater close the final curtain, so to speak. But at the same time, I can only wish to say I’m actually surprised. It was only a matter of time before a historic landmark like Colonia succumbed to the age of technology. And who’s to blame for the theatre being unable to pay for these updates? Personally, the last time I remember sitting in front of the silver screen at the Colonia Theater was in 2005, when “War of the Worlds” was released. Ever since, I’ve traveled out of town to see a movie, even when the same movie was playing in Norwich (after all, getting there really is half the fun, right?). In hindsight, I know I could have been more supportive of the Colonia, but then again, I think a lot of people who would say the same. Hindsight’s always 20/20.

On a different note, official referees returned tot the NFL this week, much to the admiration of football fans the country over. The crowd actually cheered for the refs prior to the official coin toss in Baltimore – the first time referees have ever been cheered by a stadium full of people. Be ready for less jeers and referee insults and more thinks like “Hey ref, get some glasses… to protect your eyes from those harmful UV rays.”

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012

Friday, September 28th, 2012
Patrick Newell

A quick thought or two on the Unadilla Valley football team. While most great football programs have entrenched coaching staffs, UV has had a veritable coaching carousel with four head coaches over the past four years. I learned early this past summer that last year’s head coach would not be returning. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks before preseason practice started that I was told Daryl Decker would be taking the head coaching reins. During my preseason interview, Daryl was quick to point out that he was not the sole head coach, and in fact considered Jim DuVall his co-head coach. The two of them worked together as Physical Education teachers a few years ago at UV, and both had a high regard for this current crop of students.  That is why the two of them agreed to split the head coaching salary this season. Why split the salary when it is standard in high school varsity football to pay at least one or two assistants in addition to the head coach? Because the UV school district’s athletics budget only allowed for one paid varsity football coaching position. I am not familiar with the limitations of UV’s budget, but I do know paying just one varsity football coaching position is setting up a program to fail. If you know of any other football team in Central New York that pays just one varsity football coach, please let me know.

Greene’s field hockey team has won several state titles, all in the Class A or Class B ranks. For those who do not know, the Trojans have been a Class C-sized school for as long as they have had a field hockey program, and for the first time, will compete in sectional play against other Class C schools. Head coach Sue Carlin decided it was best for her team to move back to Class C, that despite a tremendous winning record on the state level against schools significantly larger. “Our enrollment keeps dropping, and we’ll be pretty close to a Class D school in a few years,” Carlin said. “This is a special, talented group of girls, and I felt they deserved a chance to play against schools their own size.”

Lights are coming to Otselic Valley – for one weekend at least. The Vikings are renting lights for next weekend when the varsity and modified will compete in a two-day tournament. OV girls’ soccer coach, Kevin Springer, said this is the first he can ever remember Otselic Valley played any type of a night game — in any outdoors sport. “It’s a big promotional thing and great for the kids,” Springer said. The tournament will also serve as a fundraiser for the OV sports programs as concessions will be available throughout the weekend. Prior to the tournament, community members are invited to participate in a bonfire Thursday evening. “There is going to be a lot of soccer played (here) next weekend,” Springer said, summing up the tournament.

I think everyone is happy the “professional” NFL referees will return to the field this week (assuming all of the I’s are dotted in the tentative labor agreement). As for Monday night’s controversy, I have little new to add to what has already been discussed. Oh, if you’re in the one percentile of sports fans who didn’t hear, the NFL’s replacement officials blew it – big time. It is clear the referees got it wrong, and the NFL front office wrongly backed an egregious mistake. Everyone with an opinion complained ad nauseum about the need to replace the imposters, and it seems those voices were heard. One complaint I heard was to bring back the “real” referees. Let’s get this straight, the replacements in black and white stripes were real referees, not just getting a jump on their planned Halloween costume. They’re like you and me – working a day job, then officiating on the weekends for extra money. The difference is that these guys only had to learn a rulebook that is approximately one-fourth the size of the NFL’s rules and casebook. In 2003, I spent the fall months officiating local football games. My rulebook was probably 60 or 70 pages, and we had weekly meetings during the summer to review the various sections of that book. I have to assume that the NFL’s replacement officials, many of whom were high school officials, were versed in the same book I studied. It takes weeks and months of study to learn high school rules, and even longer to recognize how to correctly implement all of them during actual game action. Even though you might know what a holding call looks like, sifting through the mass of players and recognizing it with little or no time to spare is much more difficult. Compare that to the NFL rulebook. I opened a PDF file of the rulebook, and it was 244 pages. Someone recently told me that the number of words in the NFL rulebook (along with supplements for rules interpretation and implementation) exceeds the number of words in the bible. I can’t confirm that, and I sure as heck am not going to count words. Anyway, it is inconceivable that any replacement referee could ingest up to four times more rules information in a few weeks. And, as I said, to not only know the rules, but have the mental acuity to implement those rules expeditiously. That is why we saw such lengthy delays and endless referee conferences during games. No one person knows everything written in the NFL rulebook, and the substitutes who filled in for several weeks knew far short of everything. With the labor battle over, I almost choked when I saw the final agreed-upon salaries of the NFL officials. Hard for me to garner much sympathy for their plight when the five-year accrued salary for an NFL referee is between $900,000 and $1 million. That’s entertainment!

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

And 12,000 came to see Denison hung high …

Thursday, September 27th, 2012
Kevin Doonan

Here’s a story uncovered during my research into the Chenango County Historian’s files … one that didn’t quite make it into today’s special section on the 175th anniversary of the courthouse, but is interesting nonetheless.

In 1833, the first of two men hung in Chenango County perished after a long drop and a short stop. The tale of George Denison’s untimely demise is an odd one. It is believed that during the week, Denison boarded in New Berlin where he worked. He has been described in early newspapers as a jovial drunk who was everyone’s friend when tippling.

On 30 September, 1822, Denison was making the long trip home along the New Berlin-Columbus road. As he traveled Denison stopped various inns along his route, forking over his weeks earnings to procure copious quantities of alcoholic beverages. As Denison proceeded towards home, so to did the grasp of drunkeness progressively clench its steely claws upon his mind, befuddling his senses and impeding judgment.

Everything seemed to be going well for Denison, he no doubt was having the time of his life and wished only to elongate the one man festival. But the good time came to an abrupt halt when Denison stumbled into the inn of Hamlin Gregory. The coldhearted innkeeper cut short Denison’s revelry by refusing the hapless man even a single drop of amber spirit. Enraged beyond reason, the rapscallion departed from the inn, swearing retribution for these most grievous of affronts.

Mournful over being so unjustly slighted, Denison returned home. At this point he no doubt helped himself to some more drink, but what he unequivocally did was load a gun with shot and powder.

Utilizing the most sound channels of logic conceivable, Denison had determined someone ought to teach Hamlin Gregory a lesson on denying a parched man the means to quench his thirst. Intend upon “peppering” Hamlin’s leg, Denison came upon old Gregory lounging in the shadows of a woodshed doorway. Denison noted that Hamlin wore his iconic large slouched hat pulled low upon his brow, while he smoked his token corn pipe. Swaying ever so slightly, Denison squinted one bloodshot eye, took aim at one of the many images he saw of Hamlin’s leg, and fired. A satisfying thump resounded when the bullet met the flesh of the man seated before Denison. As the barrel of his gun cooled, the drunk scoured a nearby field for a nice quiet spot to have a lay down and proceeded to pass out. That morning the sun arose to find Hamlin inexplicably unbesmirched.

The day before, on September 30th, Hamlin’s son, Reuben Gregory, was suffering from an agonizing toothache. No remedy could alleviate Reuben’s discomfort and it was suggested to him that he try smoking tobacco. Unfortunately though, Reuben was not a habitual smoker and did not own a smoking device. And so in search of a remedy for his toothache, Reuben sought out his father’s corn pipe. He found it along with his father’s slouched hat, which he put on. He then settled into a chair in the shadows of a woodshed doorway adjacent to his father’s inn and proceeded to puff on his old man’s pipe.

Reuben most likely did not see his death coming, nor is it likely that he had time to register the shot that killed him. Although Denison protested until his dying breath that his intention had been merely to wound the man he thought to be Hamlin, the bullet he fired had traveled straight through young Reuben’s heart, piercing the wood behind him.

When Denison was awoken to face the consequences of his actions, he expressed both shock and anguish for the deed he had committed whilst deep in the thralls of fermented spirits. Denison went to the gallows a remorseful man, leaving behind a wife and two children.


The NFL, bacon and ’30 Seconds’

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
Brian Golden

I don’t know about you, but were there not some absolutely crazy headlines in the news today? As such, here’s a little taste of what’s going on around the world.

• First and foremost, without a doubt and with no hesitation, the NFL’s latest money hungry gaffe … the replacement referees. The proof? Monday Night Football’s unbelievable ending, which found the Seattle Seahawks getting the win thanks to an absolutely dismal call on the final play of the game. Whether you’re a football fan or not, you must admit that this entire situation is beyond ridiculous and entering the Realm of Ludicrous. As if the NFL – and its owners – don’t have enough money already. Greedy much?

• Alert! Alert! All hands on deck. That’s right, folks, now they’re talking about a bacon shortage. Personally, I can’t think of a worse scenario than life without bacon, which brings to mind a favorite conversation I had with buddies Vischi, Tozer and Chuck (during Tozer’s bachelor party weekend, no less).
“Hey Golden, did you bring enough bacon?”
“Uh, I think so, I brought five pounds.”
“Wrong answer, Golden, there can never be enough bacon.”

• And then there’s Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressing the U.N. Why anyone is listening to President Ahmadinejad in the first place is beyond me, particularly here in America (because I’m fairly certain I know how he feels about us), although I must admit it was interesting hearing what he had to say on Iran’s “global vision” and that Iran “welcomes any effort intended to provide and promote peace, stability and tranquility.”
Really? I’m not buying it.

Besides the news, of course, there’s (cue climactic orchestra music) Most Ridiculous ‘30 Seconds Post of the Day,’ brought to you by … Woman from North Norwich.
“November 6 2012 I am having a NO Bama Party. Who is gonna be here?????? RSVP ASAP…..”
Which should read (if one believes in punctation), “November 6, 2012, I am having a NO Bama Party. Who is going to be there? Please RSVP as soon as possible.”
Well, I’ll tell you what, Woman from North Norwich, I don’t want to go to your party, and I have no idea what your problem is with the great state of Alabama. Oh, wait, you were talking about our president? Well, I’m still not going to your party.

Different planet, same problems

Friday, September 21st, 2012
Shawn Magrath

If the recent cooler weather is an indication of how the upcoming winter’s going to be, I need to dig my parka out of the closet and start feeing my sled dogs a little better.

I’m not usually one to complain – at least not publicly – but I’ve some real problems with local drivers lately. I think it’s a correlational trend: As daylight hours become less and less, driver attentiveness gets lower and lower. This week alone, I’ve done four different last-minute “break-checks” because of drivers pulling out directly in front of me (two of which were within a 0.2 mile stretch on Main Street), leaving me to shout words that would make my grandmother cry, and my passenger picking teeth out of the dashboard. To me, it just makes sense: If a driver can make eye contact with the plastic hula girl jigging on the dash of an oncoming car, there’s not enough time to pull out. Add that to my brush with death when I was almost run over in the crosswalk earlier this week – by a driver on a cell phone no less – and you find the root of my latest hatred for other drivers. I almost wish I had an angrier sounding car horn; that would make me better.

On a separate note, billionaire Richard Branson (best known for being the outgoing, adventurous owner of the Virgin Group; and being mistaken for Polish/Lithuanian American actor Charles Bronson) announced that now, a little more than a month after the Mars Rover touched down on the Red Planet, he is optimistic about colonizing there. According to him, it’s plenty possible within his lifetime to begin a community on Mars that’s filled with “fun people, beautiful people, ugly people” – finally, a place for me. And the best part? I would have fewer neighbors (though I’m sure one of them would pull out in front of me. Different planet, same horrible drivers). Cue theme song from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

The average voter …

Friday, September 21st, 2012
Kevin Doonan

Winston Churchill said it best when he said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

I am most definitely a proponent of democracy, in fact I feel that it is, unequivocally, among the greatest concepts every devised by mankind. No, my qualm lays with any aversion to questioning even the greatest of systems. Yes, the modern concept of democracy is functioning form of government we have yet come up with, but this does not mean that it can not be improved because there are flaws? What can be said about giving uneducated voters a vote? It is unethical to deny anyone the vote, yet it is scary that individuals unwilling to accept facts have a measure of power of all.

And what about voters who are in the minority? By its very nature democracy oppresses voters in the minority. Working together, we can create a better and brighter future, but that can only be accomplished if we all agree not to be content with what has proven acceptable in the past and instead strive to better ourselves and the world we live in.

Heading north …

Friday, September 21st, 2012
Brian Golden

Well, all I can say is that was one helluva week (and next week’s shaping up to be pretty hectic as well). Not that I’m complaining, because being busy really does make the time fly by. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I’m excited to “get out of Dodge” for the weekend, as I prepare to venture north once again to the land of ‘Cuse. Big gig for Master Thieves tomorrow afternoon, performing at the annual Tipperary Hill Music Festival. This is a first for the band and I’m happy to report we’re all extremely excited to lay it down good.

Note to self … I dig music.

I guess I ruffled some feathers with this week’s Evening Sun column (say it isn’t so), yet I’m surprised by the absolute hatred my opinions seem to garner at times. Sorry, but being called a liberal, socialist, communist, anti-American lowlife really isn’t going to get me to stop voicing said opinion. Believe it or not, I’m not the only person on the planet who supports (and believes in) our current president. By the way … great Letter to the Editor in today’s paper, James Lemery of Sherburne … spot on.

That said, ladies and gentlemen, it’s now time for my latest installment of “Most Ridiculous ‘30 Seconds’ Post of the Day” (actually submitted on Wednesday), brought to us this time around by the mysterious … the anonymous … the Man from Oxford.
“He who speaks of himself in the third party and knows that he speaks of himself knows not of the world but only of himself and is a megalomanic consumed with the greatness of himself in his own mind.”

Uh … sure, Man from Oxford, whatever you say. You’ll notice, I hope, that I corrected your spelling of megalomaniac. No charge and you can thank me later.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012

Friday, September 21st, 2012
Patrick Newell

* Today we began our Athlete of the Week series, one we hope to run without interruption during the prime high school sports seasons. It was a bit of a delay this year as we searched for a title sponsor, and we thank Matthews Ford/Planet Preowned for stepping up to support Chenango County Athletes. The first honoree, Jake Mazzarella of Bainbridge-Guilford, is an example of making the most of an opportunity. As detailed in today’s article, Mazzarella was buried on the depth chart on last year’s varsity team. Around the midway point of last season, head coach Tim Mattingly was looking to better complement fullback Billy Holden. More and more, teams were stacking their fronts to slow Holden, who still managed a 1,000-yard season in just eight games. At tailback, Mattingly was looking for a little bit more than what he was getting. He turned to Mazzarella, and it proved a great choice. Since making his first start in the backfield, he has remained a fixture, and has gone one better this year. Instead of acting as the “change-up” to Holden’s “fastball,” Mazzarella is now the number one pitch in the B-G offense. Each week he has improved, and over the past two weeks he has rushed for nearly 500 yards to go with five touchdowns. Usually a head coach is well aware of his top prospects while they are still a year or two away from joining the varsity. As Mattingly admitted, Mazzarella was not immediately on his radar. “To be honest, we didn’t see this coming from Jacob,” Mattingly said in a phone interview earlier this week. “But boy, we’re glad he’s here.” So, too, are the rest of the Bobcats.

*NFL Films president Steve Sabol died earlier this week after an 18-month battle with brain cancer. The last time I saw him, he was introducing his father Ed at the 2011 NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio. Ed Sabol founded NFL films, and quickly enlisted his son as a cameraman and writer. Eventually Sabol took the reins at NFL Films as his father stepped back into retirement. In my generation — and those who grew up in the 1960s –– NFL films served as a video catalog of the greatest NFL games of that era. It told football stories that became operatic, balletic, and poetic. The narration of legendary John Facenda added gravitas to what was already cinematic beauty. Who doesn’t remember the trumpets and horns sounding off as a ballcarrier (running in super slow motion) drives forward with great exertion toward the goal line? The camera work was brilliant; the script always on point, and Facenda…well, his moniker as “the voice of God” was well deserved. If you loved football, an NFL Films presentation was a must watch. Rest in peace Mr. Sabol, and thank you for helping foster my love of sports.

* Until yesterday evening, I had not looked at the 2012 state football rankings. In an interview with Greene head coach Tim Paske, I asked if he knew his team’s ranking – if at all. He didn’t have an answer, but did say that this week’s opponent, Chenango Forks, was probably ranked pretty high. Paske was right, Chenango Forks is ranked high, number 12, but Greene is ranked even higher. The Trojans appear to have garnered some respect based on their 9-1 finish last year. Greene is presently ranked number six among Class C football teams. It’s a nice ranking, but Paske will be the first to tell you the only ranking that matters is the last poll when the state playoffs are completed. Among other local teams, Bainbridge-Guilford’s 3-0 start has it ranked number 12 in the Class D poll. Norwich, in Class B, received honorable mention status.

Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat

The end? Kids these days … and ’30 Seconds’

Friday, September 14th, 2012
Brian Golden

Listening to the radio this morning while en route to the office, I heard a (slightly) humorous advertisement poking fun at the oft-perceived “imminent” demise of good old-fashioned newspapers the country over. Personally, I don’t think it’s reached that point quite yet – although that might be hard to argue – but it did get me thinking just how much things have changed, technologically speaking, over the past decade or two. Just imagine sitting down with … let’s say a six year old, one that probably knows the workings of your “smart phone” better than you do.

“Hey there, kid, have you heard the new ZZ Top album? You should grab a copy and give it a spin.”
“What’s an album? And what is a ZZ Top?”

“Hello, youngster, did you hear the big news that’s hot off the press? Make sure and take a look at today’s newspaper.”
“Don’t call me youngster, my iPhone 5 is bigger than your iPhone 4G. Anyway, what’s a press? And why is it hot? Newspaper? Is that some sort of blog or app or something?”

“Hey, little girl, why all dressed up? Going to have a tea party?”
“No, I’m not a member of the tea party. I’m a democrat. I voted for Obama.”
“But you’re six.”
“Well, maybe I didn’t vote for Obama, but I told my parents to. I also told them if they didn’t I’d throw a tantrum every time we went out in public.”

It’s no wonder there’s so much confusion when it comes to the “generation gap,” so to speak, these days.

Moving on (and without further ado) here’s this week’s Most Ridiculous ‘30 Seconds’ Post of the Day, brought to you by … Man from Norwich.
“Now that the Chenango county primary is open us, can I look forward to removal of the ridiculous number of road/lawn signes, list up billboard and that horrible radio jingle? Do we all really think that will make ignorant people vote one way?”
Which, I believe, was supposed to read, “Now that the Chenango County primary is upon us, can I look forward to the removal of the ridiculous number of road/lawn signs, billboards and that horrible radio jingle? Do we all really think that will make ignorant people vote one way?”

Well, Man from Norwich, first things first, I have absolutely no idea what a “list up billboard” is, so I simply removed it from your statement. Secondly, I’m fairly certain that the majority of the road/lawn signs and billboards will remain up through the November election. And lastly ­– but certainly not leastly (heh) – never underestimate what an ignorant person will do, because … well … ignorant people are fairly unpredictable.

With that, have a great weekend, everybody. See you on Monday.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Thursday, Sept 13, 2012

Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Patrick Newell

* Today’s sports section detailed the boxing journey of 1990 Norwich graduate Angel Bovee. She followed the traditional path to success – at first – attending college after high school and earning her degree. She was building a nice career for herself in the television industry when she abruptly changed course. Is there anything greater than a 180-degree turn? Bovee went from television producer and renting a nice apartment to living out of her car and training as an Olympic-style boxer. That moved paid off as she accumulated a long list of championships including three New York Golden Gloves titles. She was working toward her ultimate goal: To compete in the Olympic Games. Unfortunately, women’s boxing did not become an official Olympic sport until this year. Bovee, who is 40 years old this year, retired after her last Golden Gloves title in 2007, mainly because she exceeded USA Olympic Boxing’s maximum age for an amateur (35). Instead, she has immersed herself in promoting women’s boxing, and is the ultimate advocate serving as a member of the USA Boxing Board of Directors. Her story is a triumph in perseverance, and you can read about it by either picking up a back copy of today’s edition or clicking on the sports link on The Evening Sun’s website.

* Through five games this season, the Greene girls varsity soccer team has a 2-3 record, and in those five games, the Trojans have scored around 15 goals. Tonight, the Trojans lost to Sidney 2-1. In the process of taking the box score, I ask for the goal scorers and those who were credited with the assist. When I asked head coach Brandy Stone who scored for Greene, she said “Paige.” As if I expected anything else. Paige Wilcox has scored, in games reported to our paper, every single goal. There is one game of the five that was not reported, so I cannot say with 100 percent certainty Wilcox has scored EVERY single goal. Still, the odds are that if the team scored, she had a part in it.

* Seems like some anomalies have crept into the football schedules for a few local teams. For me, if I want to take in some games, I’ll likely need to fill my gas tank. Norwich and Oxford play on the road in four of the first five weeks; Sherburne-Earlville played its first two games on the road; and Unadilla Valley was scheduled for road trips in three of the first four games. A back-loaded home schedule seems nice, yet you have to consider that the potential for inclement weather is more likely in mid- to late-October. Oxford’s schedule seems particularly brutal with Friday the first of three straight road games against extremely difficult opposition. Coach Ray Dayton says this is “an opportunity to see what his kids are made of.”

* I compiled an interesting statistic on Greene football for my game preview article tomorrow. Since 2008 – and not including playoff games – Greene has a 30-6 overall record for an .833 winning percentage. I do not have complete season records of every Section IV team in that time, but I can safely conclude, based on the records I do have, that the Trojans’ mark is among the top three or four overall in that time span. The streak of seven straight winning seasons is also among the top four in Section IV. Nearly every football coach I speak to is striving for the tradition and excellence of football programs such as Chenango Forks and Walton. I think Greene is there.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat